I ATTENDED the launch of Kia’s cee’d just over five years ago – the South Korean company’s first car to be engineered and manufactured in Europe at its plant in Slovakia.
Back then I wrote that the new kid on the block had all the qualities to be a success in the UK.
It has done just that with 55,000 of the 450,000 European sales landing on these shores.
The second-generation five-door cee’d has just arrived, going on sale on June 1, and it raises the bar quite a bit on what was already a fine model.
It has a much more sporting stance, being narrower and lower, and all sorts of new technology is now available. But it’s inside the cabin that I felt there has been a huge improvement.
All surfaces and material are of a much higher quality and once on the road, the improved build is obvious with very little wind, tyre or engine noise coming through.
Four engines are available at launch – 1.4 and 1.6-litre diesels from Kia’s U2 family and petrol engines of similar capacity from the Gamma range. It is also the first Kia in the world to offer a dual-clutch automatic transmission.
I sampled 1.6-litre 126bhp diesel and 1.6-litre 133bhp petrol powered models and my preference was for the diesel.
They both had six-speed manual transmission but the petrol version wasn’t as sprightly as I expected it to be and the diesel livelier, especially in mid-range.
Overall handling and ride comfort was good and there is lots of room for driver, front and rear passengers. Boot space is generous, increasing by 40 litres to 380 litres.
I also sampled the 1.6-litre petrol with its dual-clutch transmission and felt it was smooth and swift going up and down the gears.
The four trims available are ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’ – with the option of a ‘4 Tech’ version of cee’d ‘4’.
There is no shortage of standard equipment which on the entry model includes electrically adjustable heated door mirrors, tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustment and a height-adjustable driver’s seat, air conditioning, steering wheel-mounted controls, front electric windows, daytime running lights, remote central locking, a cooled glovebox, a flat-folding 60:40 split rear seat, ambient front lighting, an iPod-compatible audio system with radio and CD player, USB port and Bluetooth connectivity, ESP and VSM, HAC (Hill-start Assist Control), six airbags and speed-sensitive auto door locking.
Cee’d ‘2’ adds 16-inch alloy wheels, cornering lights, LED daytime running lights and rear combination lamps, electrically folding and heated door mirrors, leather trim on the steering wheel, gearshifter and handbrake, greater use of chrome highlights, a rear centre armrest, all-round electric windows, cruise control with speed limiter, reversing sensors and the Flex Steer function.
Step up to ‘3’ trim and this also brings privacy glass, automatic headlights with a ‘follow-me-home’ function, rain-sensing front wipers with de-icing elements, a height-adjustable front passenger’s seat, electric lumbar support on both front seats, dual-zone automatic air conditioning with two-step air-flow control and a seven-inch touchscreen satellite navigation with European mapping, UK postcode entry and built-in colour reversing camera system.
Cee’d ‘4’ brings 17-inch alloys, exterior illumination on the front door handles, black leather front seats with contrasting grey inserts and three-stage heating, a heated steering wheel and electronic parking brake, an engine stop/start button with smart entry system, rear air ventilation system, a premium centre console with sliding cover and a TFT LCD multi-function high-definition colour display, while the cee’d ‘4 Tech’ is distinguished by its panoramic sunroof, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, Parallel Parking Assist System – including front parking sensors – and Lane Departure Warning System and Xenon adaptive front lighting system with automatic levelling.
So you really get quite a lot for your money as well as the seven-year, 100,000-miles transferable warranty, pioneered on the first cee’d and now standard on every Kia model.
With on-the-road prices starting at £14,395 and rising to £23,795, this new cee’d line-up should enable Kia to hit its 10,000 first year UK sales target.
Along with its parent company Hyundai, Kia is sponsoring next month’s European football Championships and will be looking to score high on the Euro sales charts.